Category Archives: Language across the Curriculum

Functions of Language

Language serves a variety of functions, and its primary purpose is communication. The functions of language can be broadly categorized into several types, each contributing to the effectiveness of human communication.

Here are some key functions of language:

Expressive Function:

Language allows individuals to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, describing their internal states or external events.

Directive Function:

Language can be used to give instructions, commands, or requests. This function is directive, influencing the behavior of others.

Referential Function:

Language is used to refer to and denote objects, people, events, or concepts in the external world. It provides a means for sharing information about the surrounding environment.

Also Read : Features of Language

Social Interaction:

Language is used for social purposes, maintaining social contact and establishing or reinforcing social relationships. Small talk and greetings are examples of phatic communication.

Poetic Function:

Language is used to refer to and denote objects, people, events, or concepts in the external world. It provides a means for sharing information about the surrounding environment.

Cognitive Function:

Language is crucial for cognitive processes, such as problem-solving, reasoning, and organizing thoughts. It serves as a tool for mental representation and understanding.

Cultural Transmission:

Language plays a crucial role in transmitting cultural values, traditions, and knowledge from one generation to another.

Historical Function:

Language serves as a tool for documenting and preserving historical events, cultural practices, and societal changes.

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Functions of Language

Structure of Language

The structure of language refers to the organization and arrangement of linguistic elements, such as sounds, words, and sentences, to convey meaning. Linguists analyze language structure at various levels, ranging from the smallest units of sound to the overall organization of discourse. Here are some key components of the structure of language:

Phonetics and Phonology:

  • Phonetics: Examines the physical properties of speech sounds, including their production, transmission, and reception.
  • Phonology: Focuses on the study of the sound patterns and rules within a particular language, including how sounds interact and form phonemes.


Studies the structure and formation of words. Morphemes are the smallest units of meaning, and morphology explores how they combine to create words.


Deals with the structure of sentences and the rules governing how words are combined to form grammatically correct phrases and sentences.

Also Read : Difference between language and communication


Concerned with the meaning of words, phrases, and sentences. It explores how words and combinations of words convey meaning and how meaning is interpreted.


Examines the use of language in context and how context influences the interpretation of meaning. Pragmatics considers factors such as social roles, relationships, and the speaker’s intentions.


Encompasses both syntax and morphology and provides the rules for constructing grammatically correct sentences and words in a language.


Studies the organization and structure of extended stretches of language, such as conversations, narratives, and written texts. Discourse analysis examines how sentences and utterances connect to form coherent communication.

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Structure of Language

Features of Language

Language is a complex and multifaceted system that enables communication. It encompasses various features that allow individuals to convey thoughts, ideas, and information. Here are some key features of language:

Productivity (Creativity): Speakers can create and understand an infinite number of sentences by combining a finite set of linguistic elements (words, morphemes, etc.). This feature allows for the generation of new and unique expressions.

Discreteness: Language is composed of discrete units, such as phonemes, morphemes, and words. These units can be combined to create meaningful communication.

Arbitrariness: The relationship between words and their meanings is arbitrary. There is no inherent connection between the sounds or symbols used in a language and the concepts they represent.

Cultural Transmission: Language is passed down from generation to generation within a cultural context. It is learned through exposure and interaction with others in a community.

Also Read : Difference between Language and Communication

Duality of Patterning: Language has a hierarchical structure with smaller, meaningful units (morphemes) combined to form larger units (words), and these, in turn, are combined to create complex structures (sentences). This dual layering allows for a rich variety of expressions.

Multifunctionality: Language serves various functions, including expressing thoughts, emotions, giving commands, asking questions, and conveying information. It can be used for a wide range of purposes.

Learnability: Humans have a natural ability to acquire language. Children can effortlessly learn the complexities of their native language(s) during their early years.

Cognitive Basis: Language is closely related to cognitive processes. The ability to use language is associated with higher cognitive functions, such as memory, problem-solving, and abstract thinking.

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Features of Language

Differences between Language and Communication

Language and communication are related concepts, but they refer to different aspects of human interaction. Here are the key differences between language and communication:

  • Language: Language refers to a system of symbols, sounds, and rules used by humans to convey meaning. It is a structured code that enables individuals to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas.
  • Communication: Communication is the broader process of exchanging information, ideas, thoughts, or feelings between individuals. It can occur through various means, including language, gestures, facial expressions, and other non-verbal cues.
  • Language: Language specifically pertains to the use of words, grammar, and syntax to convey meaning. It involves the construction of sentences and the adherence to linguistic rules.
  • Communication: Communication encompasses a wider range of activities, including both verbal and non-verbal forms of expression. It includes gestures, body language, facial expressions, and written or visual forms of conveying messages.

Also Read : Multilingualism in the classroom

  • Language: Language can take various forms, including spoken language (oral communication) and written language. Sign language is also a form of language used by individuals with hearing impairments.
  • Communication: Communication can take place through verbal means (speech, writing) as well as non-verbal means (body language, facial expressions, gestures).
Learning Process:
  • Language: Learning a language involves acquiring vocabulary, understanding grammar rules, and developing proficiency in speaking, listening, reading, and writing.
  • Communication: Communication skills encompass the ability to convey messages effectively using language and non-verbal elements. It involves not only linguistic competence but also social awareness and adaptability.
  • Language: The primary purpose of language is to convey meaning through a structured system of symbols and sounds.
  • Communication: Communication serves the broader purpose of exchanging information, building relationships, and expressing emotions.

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Difference between Language and Communication

Emergent Literacy: Meaning and Implications

Emergent literacy refers to the early, foundational skills and behaviors that children develop before they formally learn to read and write. It encompasses a range of language and literacy-related activities and experiences that set the stage for later literacy acquisition. Emergent literacy recognizes that literacy development begins in the early years of life, well before a child enters formal schooling.

Key Component of Emergent Literacy :

Oral Language Skills: The development of vocabulary, comprehension, and oral communication lays the foundation for reading and writing.

Phonological Awareness: The ability to recognize and manipulate the sounds of language, including rhyming, syllable segmentation, and initial sound awareness.

Print Awareness: Understanding the conventions of print, such as recognizing letters, understanding that print carries meaning, and awareness of the left-to-right directionality of reading.

Literacy-Related Behaviors: Engaging in activities that promote an interest in books and reading, such as pretending to read, exploring books independently, and asking questions about written language.

Also Read : Language Across the curriculum

Implications of Emergent Literacy:

Early Intervention is Critical: Recognizing and supporting emergent literacy skills in the early years can have a significant impact on later reading and writing success. Early interventions can prevent or address potential reading difficulties.

Play-Based Learning: Play serves as a natural and engaging context for emergent literacy. Activities such as storytelling, role-playing, and interactive games contribute to language and literacy development.

Family and Community Involvement: Families and communities play a vital role in fostering emergent literacy. Reading to children, providing access to books, and creating a literacy-rich environment at home contribute to early literacy development.

Multimodal Approaches: Incorporating a variety of modes of communication, including visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, supports emergent literacy. This can include using multimedia, interactive technologies, and hands-on activities.

Promoting a Love for Reading: Instilling a love for reading from an early age is crucial. Creating positive and enjoyable experiences with books helps children develop a lifelong appreciation for literacy.

Assessment for Early Identification: Regular assessment of emergent literacy skills helps identify areas of strength and areas that may need additional support. Early identification allows for targeted interventions.

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Emergent Literacy : Meaning and Implications